moriae encomium

#UBClean #TuumEst


UBC Board of Governors in action.
Exemplary PowerPoint presentation of the century.
Photo: Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa.

Well, it’s been an exciting last few days and a very exciting day today.

Happy Imbolg / Saint Brigid’s Day  [= Sunday evening through yesterday]: yet another New Year, like those of many other cultures this is a day associated with cleaning out the old and bringing in the new.

I won’t go into any of the tedious details and backstory and buildup and so on between Thursday and today, and you can follow along on Twitter for the public version like anyone else. Here are some visual and verbal highlights.

Why something happened:

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 7.53.01 PM

For more background on the issues leading to this protest, see this letter from the Faculty Association, which details how the BoG has, among other things, held committee meetings that left no official record, and made decisions about personnel matters without formal assessments or performance reviews.…/UBCFA%20Letter%20to%…

So here’s that thing that happened today: (more…)



[I’m not writing a proper full blog post myself: I couldn’t do this matter due justice as my word-brain is fried after marking, finally crashing after working since 6 a.m. So I will hand you over to other people who can address it better, more elegantly and eloquently: Eileen A. Joy follows below (I added links, and images from Schuiten & Peeters Les Cités obscures), and other text is from Custodians Online and Rabia Gregory:]


UPDATE on ‪#‎saveashgate‬ petition-campaign: the Burlington, Vermont office did close on Nov. 25, while plans for the UK office are still up in the air. In addition, it has been announced that the list price of most existing Ashgate titles will increase on Jan. 1, 2016 to $149.95 / £95.00 per title. (more…)

Might times possibly be a-changing?

This is a direct follow-up to yesterday’s post, though reading the UBC budget news reported below preceded the writing of the former. Yesterday’s post sets the scene. Hopefully that scene-setting will be followed, as in any decent drama, by action.

The text and commentary that follow below might mean that there may be Less-Bad Days Ahead. Or at least glimmers of hope. Either which way I, as a humanist humanities person, like any excuse to keep Hope And Dreams Alive.


On administrative bloat 

(possibly the first item of a potentially endless series)

(may contain rants)

The issue of what in Ireland (IRCHSS) was referred to as “top-slicing” has a different name here in Canada, but it’s the same wolf under the sanctimonious plain clerical robes.

read on…

This is not a joke

UBC people, please share, distribute, go, and talk to people including people outside our institution. Others elsewhere, comments welcome. Resist the rot:

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 11.34.19 AMTranslation for non-UBC people:

  • Sauder = the UBC business school
  • Vantage = UBC’s international college for international students who take “one year of academic courses combined with intensive academic English preparation” then “transition into the second year of [their] chosen degree program”
  • professional programs = the usual suspects (law, medicine, etc.) plus more recent more-or-less red-headed stepchildren (accountancy, pharmacology, etc.)
  • continuing studies = various non-credit courses, short intensive courses, certificates, some online ones, and other descendants of the fine and noble institution that was Night School. Obrienaternally approved.
  • Advisory Committee on UBC Learning Spaces = according to a UBC site search, don’t seem to exist? though there is an Informal Learning Spaces Committee but it’s a student committee about informal learning spaces.
    Whoever these good people might be, either which way I’m pretty sure they’ve not read anything I wrote about chairs some years back.

All other terms appear in their usual, non-institution-specific, Un-common Non-senses. read more and gorier…

spam of the week (2): commentary


If you thought academia was bad for over-conferring: people, welcome to the outside world.

I’ve often wondered if there were too many conferences in academia, and that constant conference-trotting might be a bad thing. Politically and socially, over-conferring segregates those who can afford the time and money to go from those who can’t. Conferences are a whole money-making commercialised field, charging prices that are whatever the market will bear. I have been on conference-organising committees where good nice people whom I otherwise like and respect seriously discussed what the lowest and highest acceptable and expected prices for various things might be. What the market would bear. I thought of poor graduate students and old people in our local community. It would be nice if they could be there too. I felt sick. Physically sick. Episodes like these have fed into my increasing disgust with free-market capitalism. Conferences risk losing all kudos and quality and respect when they become an excuse for a scam.


satire: uncanny as ever

Freud is dead. Freudian ideas are, alas, all too alive and well; alas given Popperian rejection as pseudoscience and the minor hitch of entire fields of knowledge having provided refutation: proper clinical and behavioural psychology, neuroscience, biochemistry, and the marvellous microcosmology of what happens in one’s gut. Freudianism is not just irrelevant or false: it can also be actively harmful when put into therapeutic practice.

Such is the fate of many a theory, and many a “science” whose solidity proves only temporary. The result can be further pseudosciences posing as knowledge, and anti-scientific moves and anti-knowledge movements. Or: the rise of further idolised deified Grand Theories, coupled with yet another wave of spiritual and/or religious belief.

Or: a continuing struggle between Lady Folly and Lady Fortune.

Such is the world.

But one Freudian idea remains true today. Like many of his more successful ideas, it’s an image, and a rather fine bit of imaginative imagery at that. Like much of his survival, it fits best into more imaginative parts of life and areas of knowledge. This idea is the uncanny, Unheimlichkeit. I think it’s got something to do with fortune, and maybe something to do with folly, but I’m still thinking that through.

Two curious coincidences this week, of comic fictions being so close to the bone as to be more true than an external reality that’s a fuzzy blurred version of this much clearer fictional picture, partly as the protagonists in external reality are themselves fuzzy and blurry and never this clear and direct.

The first is today’s Dilbert. It is uncanny for (at least) two reasons. The first will be obvious:


For the second uncanniness, (more…)

mayflies and junebugs

Or: May has flown by, and I have had my first insect-bites of the year. Students seem to be learning French, and still coming to class despite the rival attractions of the nice weather outside. Draft posts are still a-coming up: on libraries, contin.; The Old Talks series; assorted notes on applied medievalism as translated to teaching and learning and other scholarly work, especially the fashionably-hot thing that is online education. All that mookery and mookishness. On which, before we go any further, I need to get this off my chest: Urban Dictionary > “mook” (n.)

But I interrupt such regular broadcasting—or rather, non-broadcasting—for three news items. They might or might not be connected to one another. There is no genetic connection: the three came into being separately and independently. There may be some topical and poetic connections, depending on the reader and their reading. And of course, like any set collection of three items (of whatever degree of randomness), under an extreme / good old-fashioned eschatological reading The Three are symptomatic of End Times Being Upon Us.


ne nos inducas in tentationem sed libera nos a Malo

ITEM ONE (more…)

on Balzac, Borges, Breaking Bad, and libraries (1)

(updated 2014-04-18)
Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 3.49.39 PM

This is the first part of a longer piece about reading, series and cycles, narrative and knowledge, and libraries. It started out as two things: a first post about libraries, and a second post about cyclical narrrative. Then when I saw that the two were connected, I stuck allthenotestogether. The result was a giant hairy indigestible horror, or maybe a horrid giant hairball, so it’s now been split into at least two.

Part the First, this one here, looks at libraries.

Part the Second looks at big cyclical narrative and its connection to libraries, in an attempt to show why burying books in storage silos is a terrible thing to do. There is a way in which it might not be a terrible thing, but this is a way which not yet, I think, been contemplated or created. Consider that post a contribution to my box-ticking of forms, for Innovation and Ideas.

It is possible that Part the Second might be split into two. We’ll see.



“Reading” and appropriate “reading-week activities” as re-envisioned by my university. Sans commentaire:

Reading week activities at UBC Library

There are plenty of activities for all to enjoy during Reading Week. Stop by UBC Library to catch a film, play some games or learn from a workshop. All activities are free of charge.


February 1 – 28
Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, level 3
Chapman Learning Commons showcase exhibit
This exhibit highlights the services the CLC offers to students and the UBC community. From peer coaches and tutoring to equipment lending, the CLC has a lot to offer.
Tuesday, February 18
All dayKoerner Library
Research in a Day workshops
Koerner Library is offering ten of it’s most popular workshops for any interested graduate students, staff, instructors or faculty – all in one day. Sessions include citation management tools, literature reviews, how to build your academic profile, and using GIS in research.
Thursday, February 20
12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
Xwi7xwa Library
Getting Started with Zotero
Have you ever said “my paper is done… except for the bibliography and citations” and then proceeded to pull all nighter? If so, it might be time to learn how to use Zotero! Zotero is a citation management tool to help you collect, organize, cite and share your resources (ALL your resources – books, articles, news sources, websites, videos… you name it!)Tea and bannock will be provided.
Thursday, February 20
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Koerner Library, 3rd floor.
Games Day
Take a break from your research and come to Koerner Library for an afternoon of board games and fun! Bring your own games or enjoy one of the games provided. Games available include: Scrabble, Fluxx, Cranium, Apples to Apples, and more!
Friday, February 21
2 p.m.
Koerner Library, Room 216
Film Screening: Scott Pilgrim vs the World
The perfect film to watch on a lazy weekday afternoon when you’re supposed to be doing homework! Part of the recently acquired Videomatica collection.
February 24 – 28
Koerner Library, 2nd and 3rd floors
Freedom to Read Week exhibit
During Freedom to Read Week Koerner Library will be running a series of displays reminding us of the dangers of censorship and the benefits of freedom of expression. Displays include a timeline of banned/challenged books in Canada and posters of frequently challenged works.